Nagpur, Sep 6 (IANS) Bollywood producer-director Madhur Bhandarkar donated the cash he received along with the National Award to three poor Vidarbha women, whose debt-ridden husbands had committed suicide, at a simple but touching function here Saturday.
The director's mother Shanta Bhandarkar handed over the dole cheques worth Rs.100,000 each to Kamla Waghmare, Sugandha Kannake and Sangita Darne even as his younger brother Nitin looked on with glistening eyes.
When he won the National Award this week for his film 'Traffic Signal' - his third consecutive award winning creation after 'Chandni Bar' and 'Page 3', he had announced he would donate the cash to the three widows.
With the help of friends in media and local administration, Bhandarkar had identified the three families, whose breadwinners - Kashinath Waghmare of Buldana district, Shyamrao Kannake and his son Vinod besides Prakash Darne of Yavatmal district - committed suicide in the last one year.
The widows, their children in tow, were brought to the city from their villages to receive the aid as Bhandarkar, who was meaning to visit their homes, was short of time.
None of the families was found 'eligible' for the government aid though a top bureaucrat admitted to IANS that they were all genuine cases of acute economic distress that could not fit in the set criteria for help.
Presenting a picture of humility, the purposive director of socially relevant films told journalists that it was a small gesture from his side for just three out of hundreds of distressed agricultural families whose tales of woe had left him disturbed over the last three years.
'Moved by newspaper reports of farmers committing suicide in the rural area of my state (Maharashtra), I always thought I had to do something about their families in my small way ... and I feel relieved today I have done it,' Bhandarkar said adding, he hoped others in the industry and the corporate world at large would follow suit.
He said he was open to the idea of making a film on the agrarian crisis and farmers' plight but that it would require him to first study the problem and the countryside thoroughly.
'Though I live in urban India, it's not my commitment to make only metro-centric films,' he added.
What explains his empathy for the underprivileged?
'I come from a lower middle class family and I have struggled hard in life,' Bhandarkar said, recalling the days just before his entry into the film industry when he distributed video cassettes from door to door in Pune on a rental of Rs.10.
The function was organised by social worker Umakant Agnihotri who also runs an aviation academy in the city.